After practicing law for 25 plus years, Joe speaks rather openly. When he thinks a client acts foolishly, he generally says “don’t be a ______’in idiot.” Some clients appreciate his candor, and one client in particular does not. This client complains to the firm’s partners.
The partners both empathize with Joe and understand why Joe says what he says. One partner admits, “I would probably say the same thing.” The other partner adds, “I get why you say that; however, that language impacts this firm’s reputation. We value professionalism, consideration, and respect here.”
While both partners demonstrate for compassion and understanding for Joe, it helps to understand that more than Joe’s needs are at stake here. Both clients and potential clients have needs, as well as the fellow lawyers and staff members.
While Joe’s language meets his own need for clarity, self-expression, and understanding, it impacts the clients and firm’s needs for respect.
The partners and Joe explore things he could say to express himself clearly and demonstrate respect for his client and the firm.
Each day you and I say and do things to meet our own needs. As adults, we have a responsibility to do so. It helps to also think about who might ask, “What about my needs?”
At the same time, our actions (and sometimes our inaction) impact us and the needs of people around us, or people we do not even know.
How are you impacting the needs of folks beside yourself? What are some options that help you without hurting anyone else?